"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Ally

Now Playing: Abraham's Daughter by Arcade Fire (just as the angel cried for the slaughter, Abraham's daughter raised her voice)

I get picked on a lot for being a feminist. It's normally the first things people attack when they're in the mood to attack me - as if standing up for women's rights is the most offensive thing I've ever done. They ask me if I'm a feminist in the same way you would ask someone if they're a rapist or a pedophile.

And the answer is always the same. Yes, I'm a feminist. You got a problem with that?

I am not ashamed of my beliefs and values. I am not ashamed of being a feminist. Women who aren't feminists aren't women. People who aren't feminists aren't people. To me, feminism isn't a dirty word, or a derogatory label - it's something that tells the world that I am a decent human being who demands that all human beings be treated with some fucking respect. So I can shut that one down pretty quickly. I'm not ashamed of being who I am.

Of late I have also become what is known in some circles as 'an ally' - a heterosexual, cisgendered person who campaigns for gay rights. Anyone can campaign for gay rights - unfortunately, that also means that everyone can be picked on for being 'gay'.

I am definitely not LGBT. I am about as straight as they get. Which is not always a good thing, considering that 'masculinity' can sometimes be a codeword for 'reckless testosterone drunk self-destructive son of a bitch', but c'est la vie. I am also quite a feminine person, in that I dress very feminine and I like makeup and jewellery and I'm very very in touch with my femaleness and my femininity and how this has impacted on my identity and who I am as a person. So yeah, it's not my rights I'm fighting for. I can fuck whoever I want and marry whoever I want and have as many kids as I want. Other people don't have that right. That's what I'm fighting for.

But the inevitable accusation comes up - I must be gay. I must be a lesbian, or a dyke, or at the very least bi. Never mind I've spent half my life drooling over one boy or another - I've noticed a recurring theme in 'defying logic' and 'ignoring facts' when it comes to homophobes and religious extremists. If I don't deny it, I am subjected to the same kind of abuse and harassment I'm working so hard to put an end to - and it hurts. I've been bullied all my life but LGBT bullying is at a whole new level and it really does wear you down. If I do deny it, I am accused of either hiding something or being the homophobe that these people are.

If I were LGBT - if I wasn't heterosexual and cisgender - I would be out of the closet. I don't have douchebag assholes for parents. I wouldn't be ashamed of my sexuality. But I'm not. I'm not offended by something that isn't offensive - I just don't like being mislabeled  and subject to the abuse that is somehow justified by something that has been forced upon me. If someone kept insisting I was Anne Hathaway I would deny it - I'd be flattered, definitely not offended, but I'm...not. Same with people insisting that I'm a lesbian. I'd be flattered, definitely not offended, but I'm...not.

This kind of systematic abuse of LGBT allies has really had a detrimental impact on the gay rights movement because it intimidates people from standing up for what they believe in - 'outing' yourself as an ally does unleash something quite scary and intimidating, but people shouldn't feel like they have to be at the receiving end of abuse to be against the said abuse. I'm proud of being straight - I'm proud of my sexuality and my gender and sexual expression. I'm proud of the fact that one day I'll be a wife and I'll have a husband and I'll have a family. This does not detract from my dedication to the gay rights movement, at all. Who I am and what I'm proud of shouldn't be used against me in a fight that I'm fighting against people who not only pick on LGBTs, but people with the guts to stand up for them.

The reason why allies are subject to abuse is because LGBTs only makes up about 3% of the population - it's a very small minority and they are very easily overwhelmed by the heterosexual norm. I think it's a very healthy thing for LGBT - especially bullied, harassed, closeted LGBT youth - to know that there are more than that 3% out there supporting them - that some very cisgendered, definitely straight people are on their side, too. But that idea freaks the shit out of the right-wing twats - that 97% of the population aren't necessarily immune from the truth. It's perceived as an attack on Mr Chauvnist and Mrs Concerned Women of America and on their normal, boring, heterosexual suburban marriages and their nonexistant sex lives and sexualities, to think that I'm straight, like them, and I am cisgendered, like them, but unlike them I was given a brain and a voice and I'm using them to support the 'gay conspiracy'. It's also very easy to accuse someone of being gay, and very easy to turn people against someone who is even suspected of being gay - after all, men who supported the suffragettes and the different waves of feminism were and still are accused of being weak and effeminate but you can't actually accuse a man of being a woman. Sexuality and sexual orientation is much more fluid than biological sex. You can accuse anyone of being gay and subject them to the subsequent bullying and humiliation. The attack on allies is an attack on LGBTs, by depriving them of the emotional support and the revolutionary muscle they need to end discrimination to end hate and crime and violence and to get equal rights.

If someone tells me that I'm an LGBT, I will say that I am not - in the same way that if someone says that I am Caucasian I will say that I am not. I am not a homophobe or a racist if I deny either of these. I am an ally. I am an ally of the LGBT rights movement. And I'm proud of that, I won't deny that, if you accuse me of that you've got it right. I'm an ally, and I'm speaking out.

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

No, 97% of the population aren't immune from bigotry. And like the cold and flu, it mutates. (This may be a bit strange, given that bigoted beliefs are often quite rigid).

Who allies for the allies? That's what I want to know. Allies are important to strong communities. And there is a whole lot of "know your place" sentiment.

And I've noticed that bullying, like many other things, has become increasingly sexualised.

Good to know you'd be out of the closet if you were LGBT.

And it's only a "conspiracy" because?

Keep giving the emotional support and especially the revolutionary muscle.

It's really important that allies know who they are too.

"Abraham's daughter raised her voice".